YOUR VOICE COUNTS
AFFORDABLE HOUSING GAP GROWS (from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition)
*1/4 of all US renters have income at or below 30$ of area median income.
*3/4 of very low income renters pay more than 50% of income on rent.
*31 affordable/available apts for every 100 very low income renters
*Homeownership and rental vacancy rates are very low-drives up rents.
*Incomes are beginning to increase slightly.
*New multifamily units are designed for higher income groups
*Continued loss of public/subsidized units through conversion to higher $.
Stir these facts and create more homelessness and poverty.
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE UNLIKELY
The house votes on minimum wage bills was March 11. NH's minimum wage is the lowest ($7.25/hr) in New England, while costs to live here are substantial, especially in southern NH. Recent announcements by Wal-Mart, TJX Co. and other companies that they will raise their own minimum wage, as well as NH polls that show most residents in favor of an increase indicate support.
Getting a job used to mean not needing NSKS for food and other essentials. Now we see many employed people who cannot make ends meet on minimum wage.
Guess we will have to wait for the federal wage level to increase or more companies who are now competing for good workers will raise wages as incentives.
When I worked in social work in the seacoast in 1988 before the construction boom crashed, unemployment was 2% there and employers were desperate to find workers.
SUCCESSFUL HOMELESS CONNECT EVENT - JAN 28
Despite the record-setting snowstorm the day before, this year's Homeless Connect event was successful. Held at 45 High St (Harbor Homes), approximately 90 folks made their way in difficult walking conditions to get information on housing, health care, jobs, and other services available. Many local agencies provided warm clothing, helpful items, and connections to needed services. Music, lunch, and haircuts were provided.
Many thanks to Andrea Reed and the committee who did preparation, outreach, and staffing for the event.
One man I spoke with had just come out of prison (driving violation, 3rd offense). His wife had undergone serious surgery and wasn't able to drive. He and his family were staying with relatives, but he was looking for resources to get work as soon as he could, worried that his prison record would slow him down substantially. He got encouragement and leads for help with securing employment.
LEGISLATION PROPOSED TO INCREASE AMOUNT A TENANT PAYS TO PROCURE AN APARTMENT - DEFEATED BY LEGISLATURE
Legislation for the 2015 session in NH included a proposal to require a first month's rent, a last month's rent, plus a security deposit to get an apartment in NH. Now a first month's rent plus a security deposit is the most a landlord can ask for. Since Nashua apartments' median rent is $1,100/month, this would mean a family/individual would have to come up with $3,300 to move in. This would be a hardship for those who get and give assistance to low-income persons to get a place. Massachusetts has these requirements, but has a higher minimum wage and substantially more services for low-income residents, plus many more protections for tenants.
UPDATE: First hearing was held on this bill on January 28, after which the Judiciary Committee voted 13-2 to defeat it and calling it "inexpedient to legislate". Many advocates were present to oppose the bill and only 3 property owners were there to support it. NSKS collected 91 signatures from staff, volunteers, and clients to oppose it and these were passed in as additional testimony.
The bill was defeated.
STATE BUDGET VOTE IN THE HOUSE - APRIL 1
There will be many advocates gathering at the State House on April 1 to challenge cuts in the state budget, which has a vote in the House that day. Many funds are in play: money for shelters, domestic violence, child care, education, mental health, addiction services and a continuation of Medicaid expansion (Medicaid is now available to 34,000 additional NH residents).
There will be a "lie-in" on the State House lawn of 300 persons to represent the 300 deaths due to overdoses (and lack of addiction treatment) in 2014. Voices of Faith will be there to promote the moral aspect of the budget and other people facing cuts to their families' well-being should also be present. Join us!
ACTION: Please contact your state reps to support these areas of the budget.
BENEFITS INCREASE PROPOSED
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the program that helps single parents with children with income, employment training, and social services support may increase its financing by 20% if this proposal makes it through the budget process in NH.
This would mean that a parent with one child would see an increase of $47.60 a month and a parent with 2 children would see $61.40 more. Since the current funding means that these families cannot afford ANY apartment in Nashua with their TANF grant only, this is a big improvement. We see many of these families in our shelters, others are "doubled up" with family, friends, or in the worst case scenario, strangers.
We hope that these long-awaited increases make it through the budget process and enable more children and their single parent to have stable homes.
ACTION:Please contact your legislato to support this change.
KNOW YOUR LEGISLATORS
Find out the names of your newly or re-elected state representatives and senators and their contact information at http://www.nh.gov/
and ask their support for votes on funding homelessness programs and policies that increase wages and job opportunities in NH. Thanks!
PLACE AT THE TABLE AVAILABLE FOR SHOWING/DISCUSSION
If anyone would like to host a showing of a film, A Place at the Table, which tells the powerful stories of 3 Americans experiencing hunger, please contact me, Eileen Brady, at Eileen@nsks.org or 603 889-7770.
EMAIL LIST FOR QUICK ACTION:
If you would like to be on an email list for quick action on legislative issues, please send your email to email@example.com
. I promise there will not be an avalanche of posts!
STILL OUT OF REACH
Massachusetts has more people in shelters and motels than ever before at a great cost to the state, largely because of the unaffordability of apartments/houses for those in the bottom 30-40% of income. As rents rise there, they rise in southern NH as well.
Unless the Federal budget begins to include more funds for various kinds of affordable housing, more cuts will need to happen in NH in programs set up to help those with the lowest incomes opportunities for stable places to live. Please contact your NH congressional delegation to support funds for subsidized homes.
HOW TO FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
NSK&S on FACEBOOK
Become a friend of Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter and/or Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter Advocacy Page on Facebook if you are on that social network, and encourage others to do so. It is another way to bring the concerns of some of the people in Nashua who don't get heard in most networks to a broader audience. Thanks!
SOME WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT
With much of federal legislation stalled or sidetracked, it is important to get the word out to our representatives in Congress that we are concerned about bills that affect homeless and hungry people in our neighborhood, a number that is growing daily due to job loss, increasing costs, and unexpected health care challenges.
SOME WAYS TO BE INVOLVED
Contact our current congressional delegation to support issues important to eradicate homelessness and hunger, to promote safe, affordable housing and enough food for all.
ATTEND A MEETING OF THE NASHUA CONTINUUM OF CARE OR THE ENDING HOMELESSNESS COMMITTEE
The Ending Homelessness Committee welcomes citizen involvement - contact Eileen@NSKS.org for more information. Come to one meeting or lots of meetings.
The Continuum of Care meets on the first Wednesday of each month (except for July) at 8 am, usually at Nashua City Hall. Usually there are 35-45 people representing agencies, businesses, faith communities, students, organizations, as well as present and/or formerly homeless people. The Ending Homelessness group meets at 9am, immediately following the Continuum of Care meeting.